My heartfelt chum-reap-sua (hello!) to all.
My name is Claire, I am originally from the UK although I have for many years been living in Asia. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am that I get to spend a few weeks back in Cambodia, with you all, on an amazing learning adventure, and I can’t wait to have the chance to experience the transformative power of this country again through new eyes.
My relationship with Cambodia is a strong and complex one. I lived there for nearly three years, and even though now I live in Nepal where I also love, I get the chance to return to Cambodia several times a year – usually to hang out or work with my good friend, and co-leader on this trip, Yut! Amazing trip-leader, philosopher, comedian, spiritual guide and general inspiring human being, I can’t think of a more perfect person to reveal the intricacies of the Cambodian culture. Rounding out our team we also have Kelsey, freshly off running the Mekong semester this Spring, energetic instructor, adept educator, ardent environmentalist.
When I lived in Cambodia I worked with community development organization CRDT in the rural north-east of the country. I was working in a province called Kratie, home to the last remaining Mekong dolphins, working on projects that aim to simultaneously conserve the environment and improve people’s lives. Since then I’ve returned to Cambodia on a variety of projects including several Dragons’ trips.
One of my main projects outside of Dragons is writing a book (launching July 2018 – that is, during our trip!) about service and volunteering, using a concept called Learning Service. We will for sure get a chance to explore this topic during our time in Cambodia. I am in fact certain that as we learn more about this complex issue that you will all be able to add perspectives that will help me develop my ideas as well.
Cambodia is a country that leaves a lasting imprint. It is a country that can simultaneously teach you about humanity’s capacity for brutality and resilience, and for despair and hope. It is a country that I feel privileged to have called home and a place to which I still maintain a deep connection. I cannot wait to rediscover and share with you all. As we journey around the wondrous Kingdom, we will invite you to be challenged, to reflect, and to learn with us. What an amazing opportunity to gather such a unique group of people together to have these impactful and powerful discussions and experiences.
I want to thank you for making the choice to come on this program; you have already won my deepest admiration for that. This trip will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in a way that nothing ever has, and if you embrace it, you are likely to have the most profound learning encounters of your life. Be open and trust in the journey.
I can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks, to discuss our hopes and goals and views of the world over a long cool café-teuk-doh-koh-teuk-kok (the longest word in the world to mean – an iced coffee!)
Please feel free to use this Yak board as your own. Post introductions, questions, and thoughts as you prepare for the trip ahead, and we instructors will do our best to get back to you.
Chum-reap-leah (goodbye!) for now!